‘Stewardship’ is an old-school word. Churches ruined it by always associating it with money and giving and building campaigns. But we shouldn’t give up this word. It’s important.
A steward is a manager of assets he doesn’t own. Stewardship is about being between the owner of the asset and eventual user of the asset. If you’re a wine steward, you manage the wine inventory for the owner and you make sure it gets to the end user just as the owner wants. Stewards receive whatever they’re entrusted with, manage the assets while in their charge, and then pass them on when they’re supposed to. Good stewards manage assets with excellence and in accordance with the owner’s wishes. While his compensation is from the owner, the steward gets a huge kick out of seeing the eventual ‘consumer’ enjoy what he’s taken care of.
You are a steward of your experience. It’s an asset uniquely given to you. No one else has your experience. You’ve had some wonderful experience . . . things you’ve learned, stuff you’re proud of and happy to talk about. But you’ve also had some painful experience . . . self-inflicted wounds with collateral damage. Defeat and loss, some by bad decisions, some served up by others, some just by circumstance. All your experience is useful if you’re a man who wants to learn, grow, gain wisdom and build your faith.
But even more important is leveraging your experience to help others. That’s what mentors do. As a mentor, I try to stay with what the Scriptures say and my personal experience. I love Hebrews 5:14 which brings these together . . .
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Good Christian mentors constantly use Scripture to train themselves to make good decisions and to distinguish good from evil. They didn’t just look it up in the ‘Good Book.’ They’ve read, digested, tested and proved the value of Biblical Truth. They’ve come to see their experience as God sees it. Some regrets, lots of forgiveness, amazing grace and mercy, all moving toward overwhelming gratitude. Truth may have entered through their heads . . . through church and reading and Bible study, but Truth has been burned into their hearts through personal experience.
God wants that truth shared to help others. A good steward of his experience is willing to share his screw-ups as well as his ‘wins.’ If a younger one can learn from you and avoid the mistakes (i.e. sin) and pain (i.e. consequences) you endured, doesn’t God smile? Isn’t He glorified when sin is avoided?
We must live, watch, read, pray and ask God to teach us what He wants us to learn from our experience. Then we must become good stewards of that experience, humbly offering it to those who are coming behind us. Remember . . . worst case, your experience can always be used in a good way as a bad example . . . “Here’s what not to do!”
Will you sit alone with your wealth of real-life experience and never share it? Will what you’ve learned die with you? Will you avoid the inconvenience of selflessly investing in younger ones, remaining paralyzed by ‘what will they think of me?’ and ‘I don’t have time’? Will you face Jesus as a horrible steward of your experience, explaining why you buried your talent instead of investing it?
Or will you humbly reach out, connect and begin the journey of mentoring someone now?
Scripture: But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
Mentor Tip: Your experience is only valuable to your mentees when you share it with them. Don’t hold back when sharing your faith story or throughout your meetings. Be honest, be vulnerable, be transparent . . . so that life change can follow.